“Proof that startlingly original artists do exist… Gallup’s guitar playing favors complex runs and picking patterns while her voice glides easily from the conversational to the ethereal, framing an unabashed gift for language and an idiosyncratic perspective that yields big truths in small musical packages. Talent enough to humble the average giant.” –Mountain XPress
A lifetime’s dedication to her art has made Annie Gallup an icon among people who take songwriting seriously. Unabashedly imaginative and sensual, her elaborate song-length works of fiction crackle with wordplay and pulse with insistent rhythm. Borrowing forms from ancient folk tales to modern poetry, Annie sings over her evolving guitar figures as if sharing secrets:
“I wanted to tell the story of my life
So I wrote a poem about a river
How else could I say what I really mean,
And hope to be forgiven?
History will reckon by its own sleight of hand
What I did, what I said, what I meant, who I loved
But when the truth is mine to tell
I have to make things up…”
“Conversations in a quiet room” is how Annie Gallup describes Little Five Points, recorded in creative partnership with songwriter/producer Peter Gallway. And in fact this project was conceived, written, recorded and realized all in the same small, quiet room in Santa Barbara, California, on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where Annie is currently living.
“Lester William Polsfuss, 1915-2009” offers a songwriter’s biographical memorial to Les Paul, guitar innovator and musician who invented so many things we take for granted – the electric guitar and multitrack recording we are hearing, for example. “Poets” is a portrayal of an art scene playing itself out, sly and playful until its last line. Songs seamlessly integrate piquant observation with themes provocative and disturbing; “Adam’s Ribs” portrays humanity’s Fall from grace with the original man wondering if he can make more women from his remaining ribs. And its wit isn’t played for laughs; the characters of parents and children have real dimension. Familiar Gallup themes of obsession, tyrannies of passion and memory, the dialog between waking and dream, all flow toward the final song in the collection, “All My Old Lovers'” with its glorious conclusion of letting go.
Annie grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, daughter of a printmaker and a woodworker. She studied dance as a child — dancing and performing came to her naturally — but music, country blues in particular, was her secret obsession. As she taught herself to play guitar (hiding in her room after school, copping licks from old Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson and Dave Van Ronk albums that she found at the public library) it never occurred to her NOT to write songs for herself to play. So by the time she began performing publicly in the early 90s (after attending the University of Michigan School of Art and then moving west to chase her incurable wanderlust) she had internalized a songwriting style that was very distinctively her own, and that had evolved from her fascination with country blues, her love of words (Alice Munro, Grace Paley, Margaret Atwood, Stephen Dobyns), a dancer’s sense of rhythm, and the sort of playful inventiveness that comes from doing something purely for its own reward.
1 Lester William Polsfuss, 1915-2009
2 The Story Of My Life
3 Girl In The Ruins
4 Adam’s Ribs
5 Careless Lover
7 1000 Miles Away
8 Speed Of Light
10 Vanity Fair
11 All My Old Lovers
Produced by Annie Gallup and Peter Gallway
Recorded by Annie Gallup at Gallway Bay Music, Santa Barbara, CA
Bass and Telecaster recorded by Peter Gallway
Mixed by Peter Gallway at Gallway Bay Music, Santa Barbara, CA
Mastered by Frankford Wayne at Oasis Disc Manufacturing, Delair NJ
Graphic Design by Annie Gallup
Annie Gallup: Lead and backing vocals, Asher lapsteel, Gibson Blueshawk guitar, Celtic Cross Weissenborn, Martin ukulele, Beard/Goldtone resophonic guitar, stocking foot
Peter Gallway: Fender telecaster, Dann custom bass, keyboards